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This tech giant is giving Apple a run for its money

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When it comes to computers, consumers have consistently ranked Apple (AAPL) at the top of the list.

But now another computer maker is rising in consumers’ estimation -- and giving Apple a run for its money -- according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The runner-up is Samsung, the Korean manufacturer that among many other things produces laptops, Chromebooks and monitors. In many cases, the Samsung products are considerably less expensive than Apple’s.

Samsung, however, has garnered negative attention this fall for its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, which included batteries at risk for overheating and catching fire. It’s possible the fallout will expand into Samsung’s computer line if consumers start viewing the company as less consistent as a result.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall ordered 02:43

The latest PC satisfaction ratings represent the views of more than 3,500 consumers in the second quarter,  before the Galaxy issue became known.

“It’s interesting because Apple has had to contend for a few years with Samsung coming on strong,” said ACSI director David VanAmburg. “We’ll see what happens next year after the fiasco with the 7.”

Apple is holding onto its crown -- for now -- as the top-rated computer maker with consumers. It received a customer satisfaction score of 84, but Samsung was close behind with an 83. Samsung climbed five points from a year earlier, while Apple’s score was unchanged.

The third-rated computer maker is Amazon (AMZN), with a score of 80. While consumers view Amazon favorably, its products are slightly more specialized, such as its Kindle e-book reading devices and Fire tablets, rather than serving as full-fledged computers.

Apple also beat out Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP (HPQ), Lenova and Toshiba, with the latter two scoring at the bottom with ratings of 76.

“If there’s any product out there perceived to be equal to or very close to another in terms of quality but at a better price, that will certainly create attention and boost that satisfaction level overall,” VanAmburg said. “There are other players in the space, but they aren’t known for the same quality [as Apple], like an Acer.”

On the software side, the big winner was Microsoft (MSFT), which has scored with its release of Windows 10, VanAmburg said. The company jumped five points to reach a score of 80 for 2016.

“We’ve seen Microsoft over the years hit or miss with all their Windows updates, and they had a bright spot when they came out with 7, then they had some rough waters,” VanAmburg said. “Now we’re seeing a nice big jump on the shoulders of a pretty popular new release of Windows.”

TVs and video players are also getting better reviews from consumers this year, rising five points to a score of 87. The reason? A sharp decline in price and the introduction of plenty of appealing features.

“A lot of it is about new technology: flat screens, HDTV and the maturing of technology to the point where prices really drop,” VanAmburg said. “People are saying, ‘These are amazing TVs and not very expensive.’”

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